Daily Archives: November 25, 2009

Museum Dedication

Chasewater Railway Museum Dedication Ceremony

This ceremony was arranged to fall on the 50th Anniversary of the date of the inaugural meeting held in Stafford, 21st November 1959.

It was arranged principally, I believe, by Adrian Hall, with assistance from Barry Bull and Steve Organ.  These gentlemen each addressed the ceremony before the plaque was unveiled by Dorothy Ives.

This room is dedicated to the memory of Dave Ives, co-founder of the
Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands District) holding membership
number two. The first Hon Secretary he became Chairman in 1969 and
President in 1974 of the RPS. The RPS was a founder of the Association of
Railway Preservation Societies (now the Heritage Railway Association) of
which Dave was a Vice-President and served a term as Chairman.

Dave convened the first meeting in the Railway Hotel, Stafford, on the
21st November 1959 and steered the Society as it started its collection
and created the first depot at Hednesford in 1960. Moving to Chasewater in
1965 the Society changed name to the Chasewater Light Railway Society in
1977, and Dave was a director and trustee of the current charity, the
Chasewater Light Railway and Museum Company from its formation in 1986 to his death in 2002.

Born at Fillongly in Warwickshire on 21st August 1920 he grew up in
Newport Shrops attending the Adams Grammar School. Moving to Stafford to
take up an apprenticeship with English Electric, he later worked for
Hammersley radios.  An early volunteer he joined the Stafford Battery then
the REME during the Second World War, with active service at home and in
the Italian campaign until 1946.
Post-war he settled into a career in technical commercial sales.

David had married Dorothy Townsend in 1943 and settling in Little Haywood
they had two sons. Dorothy typed RPS newsletters and correspondence for
many years, while David pursued interests as a campaigner for the Liberal
Party, with the Historical Model Railway Society, the Stafford Industrial
Archaeology Society, and his local Parochial Church Council. He built
garden model railway, and during retirement he also helped develop the
Amerton Railway, whilst continuing to work for the Chasewater Railway.

This plaque was unveiled by Dorothy Ives on the 21st November 2009,
marking the 50th Anniversary of the Railways Foundation.

David with his first railway at the age of about 10.

Dave (right)  and colleagues at the Hednesford  Depot 1963.

The early days at Chasewater 1971,   With Dorothy on the platform at
the original Brownhills West, demolished by the motorway, in the mid

David marches through Stafford with the British Legion.

David at Chasewater with a Planet loco and what looks like the Cannock Chase Colliery Company brake van.

I will try to add a copy of the official Brownhills West Opening Ceremony photo later.

A Memorial Plaque, engraved with the names of members who have passed away, has been commissioned and a suitable site will be found.

Finally, a number of train tickets commemorating the day are available.They are made from card and are the same size as the old-style train tickets.

My Brownhills

We’ve recently been loaned a collection of old photographs of the Brownhills district by Laurence Hodgkinson.  They are mainly based on the mineral railway around Chasewater but the first one especially brought back a lot of memories of the late 1940s and early 1950s.I don’t suppose that there are too many people reading this who have much idea where this was taken, but if you put a Canoe Centre on the left-hand side, it becomes obvious.It was the two Brownhills basins of the Wyrley and Essington Canal.  It was in the right hand basin that my friends and I first started fishing, catching, on a good day, small roach and perch and even smaller gudgeon.

We usually left the other basin to a more experienced angler – Mr. Bickley.  He used a spot about two thirds of the way towards the main canal and usually caught similar fish to us, though perhaps more of them. He always had time for a chat, and considering that we were just bits of kids, we had a great deal of respect for him.  Then one day it happened – Mr. Bickley caught a tench – not a monster as far as tench go but for our small basins it definitely had the X factor.  Of course, after this, our respect for him knew no bounds – he was our hero.

The view today follows:

To get to our fishing spot and general play area of our childhood we would walk to the left of the Regent Cinema, past the back of it – hence our name for the area ‘the back o’ the flicks’ also known as ‘the batters’ – across the brook and up onto ‘our’ field.  This was our football pitch, cricket pitch, a very unsuccessful tennis court and cycle speedway track.The whole area had been our cowboys and indians and hide and seek territory before sport took over our lives.  To get to the canal basins we would walk over ‘our’ field through the fallen railway fence and across the track.Occasionally there would be a rake of empty coal wagons in the siding, and that did make it difficult to get to the basins to fish.  We seldom travelled light so we had to get rods, nets and baskets under the couplings – not so easy, but we were young enough to bend in those days.

Originally, there were four sidings at the basins, but that was before even our time. There was just the one line remaining, to the left of the original photo.All the years we played there, I don’t recall ever seeing an engine in the siding.  They must have paid a visit from time to time, to collect or deliver the wagons – obviously while we were at school!